MEPA currently operates a total of 131 air monitoring sites across 44 localities. In addition, the Authority has earlier this year secured over €4.9 million to finance a project that will radically improve the national environmental monitoring capacity in five environmental themes – air, water, radiation, noise and soil. Today, four air monitoring stations are in operation and determine the concentration levels of most air pollutants every 15 minutes for the Maltese Islands. The stations are located across the
Islands, in accordance with the requirement set out by the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality & Cleaner Air for Europe. The Directive clearly regulates the minimum number and location of fixed air monitoring stations in each EU Member State.
EU legislation states that sampling points should be situated in places that will avoid measuring the air quality of very small micro-environments. Rather, it should be situated in such a way “that the air sample is representative of air quality for a street segment no less than 100m length at traffic orientated sites”. For this reason, MEPA opted to place the traffic stations in Msida, the urban background station in Żejtun, the station influenced by the plume of the Marsa Power Station at Corradino Industrial Estate and the background site in the Malta zone in Għarb, Gozo.
As the Authority responsible for the monitoring of air pollution in ambient outdoor air and for coordinating policy measures, MEPA also based the location of the four air monitoring stations upon the recommendations made in a report prepared by
Consultants Stacey and Bush, who were appointed by the Maltese Government to carry out a preliminary assessment of Air quality in Malta back in 2002.
In June, the Authority also launched a new environmental permitting system for all the quarries in Malta and Gozo to increase the standards of environment compliance within the industry that will include addressing the problems of high dust levels that these plants generate.
All air monitoring results are publicly available on MEPA’s website www.mepa.org.mt/airquality